SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - The Fresh Market has opened a new store in Santa Barbara in an area of town that has not had a full sized supermarket since Scolari's left about 18 months ago.
Hundreds of customers came through the doors today, for the Grand Opening at 222 Milpas St.
They were greeted by a welcoming staff, free reusable bags, and trays of food samples at every turn.
The event did not have a ribbon cutting. Instead a massive block of Parmesan cheese was cut in what's called the "Cracking of the Parm." Bite sized pieces were handed out to customers walking by.
Howard Howe, a local resident, remembers the previous store, and also a local butcher shop that no longer exists on Milpas. He welcomes The Fresh Market which has a team of butchers behind the counter.
He also noticed a variety of seasonings, including chipotle peppers which he needed recently.
"I have a grinder, and you don't need much. Those are strong, and that's a good price for them $2.99. That's a good price," said Howe.
Many customers said The Fresh Market is filling a void in the area. "You can really see this is a very high quality market with very nice products. I think it will be a great draw for the community and the neighborhood," said Sharon Byrne with the Milpas Community Association.
The store has a bakery, fish counter, a large cheese selection, hot prepared foods, bouquets of flowers, and a coffee counter.
Produce from the local area is marked with special signs, and other displays show crops that were brought in from 100 miles or closer to the store. Manager Jason Feria said, "We really could stock our store almost completely with local vendors and slowly but surely and with those opportunities that is really a part of what we do. It's not just another Fresh Market it is The Fresh Market of Santa Barbara."
The Fresh Market also paid for new holiday lighting on the street as a gift to the neighborhood.
For this chain that began in North Carolina, this is store number 151. It's the first one in Southern California.
The crew includes some employees who lost their job when Scolari's closed. In all, there are 105 workers at the new site.